About this skiing blog and me.
I coach skiing, built this skiing blog and my Bobski.com website because I have strong feelings about what I consider are the inadequacies of most ski teaching. My feelings on the subject came about from my own personal skiing experiences, and early disappointments. Also from my experiences of the way instructors are developed.
I went on my first ever skiing trip, a one week typical type skiing holiday package, at the age of 46. It was amazing. I had spent many years from the age of eleven, in the hills and mountains but never any skiing, and I can still feel and picture the first ski lift I ever went on: it was a single person chairlift that lifted you up through the pines in near silence and it was magical. For me it was like something from a dream.
Each year for the next eight years I tried to repeat the experience, and did all the usual “ski-school” stuff; frankly it was a disappointment. I made virtually no progress, and soon dispensed with ski school and did what most folk do, I somehow found a method of hacking my way down various pistes in a state of unconscious incompetence until the inevitable happened and I had a serious accident. I never blamed the system that had failed me, I just came to the conclusion that I was no good, and never would be. It was always something I looked forward to, always enjoyed, but always felt a slight “niggle” of disappointment inside me because I never made the progress I had hoped for.
I recovered from the accident, it took a year, and a year later happened by chance upon an English Ski Council skiing Coach, (I’d never heard of them). Gerald Harrison was a good one (they were not all), and it was a revelatory week which completely transformed my appreciation of skiing. It was totally unlike any of the ski school experiences I had had, and it motivated me to find out how to do what he did.
In the end, sometimes in spite of rather than because of my various “teachers” efforts, I qualified first as an instructor then as a coach. It was a six year slog – I drove twenty miles each way for example, three nights a week, to a miserable plastic slope – and often in the face of blocks and hindrances being put in my way by the very organisations I was paying to help me qualify.
In the process, and from my experiences, I drew some important conclusions about why so many recreational skiers make so little progress in the development of their skill, and so many end-up concluding the limitations are within them rather than, as is true, are within the instructional paradigms under which they have unwittingly laboured. It is a great shame, and I have had huge satisfaction from having made my tiny contribution to changing that.
As is usual in puzzling cases like this, the cause of the inadequacy lies in the fundamental underpinnings of the system. Ski schools are holiday or vacation businesses; they are not sports training enterprises. The organisations that supply them with their instructors are similarly modified by this holiday-business fact.
Their instructors are mostly very young, very good skiers, only partially trained, and motivated more by being themselves on snow, doing what they love doing (skiing) than they are by doing what recreational skiers are paying them to do, which is effectively teaching them. Commercial considerations usually mitigate toward groups that are too large and too disparate in their individual skill levels. National economic imperatives lead to marketing concepts which conflict with proper understandings of what skiing is and how it comes about. It leads to a “French” way of skiing, or an “Austrian” way, or “Swiss” way and so on, when in fact because what makes skiing work is explained by physics, there is only one way and it is not stylistic.
The paradigm is that so long as the instructor can ski brilliantly and you can watch them, you will learn to ski brilliantly. It is not true. That is not how we learn, and it was my personal experience of this which was the genesis of Bobski.com ski coaching. For those recreational but aspirational skiers who have come with me, it has been very successful. Most of my pupils have been middle aged or more, and the way I do it has suited both women and men. Numerous pupils have written to say that the processes they learned with me have been transferable to other sectors of their lives.
So long as I am still physically capable enough, I will keep going, for so long as anyone wants me to. I hope you enjoy and can in some way benefit from what I put on the blog and on the website. Good luck with your skiing, and maybe we’ll meet on a slope somewhere. I hope so.